KYIV: Russia has stepped up attacks on the shattered eastern Ukrainian frontline town of Avdiivka, its mayor said on Thursday.
The industrial town close to the Russian-held regional stronghold of Donetsk has faced a fierce onslaught for over a month.
Vitaliy Barabash said on national television that it is very hot. Indeed, the enemy has become more active in the last few days, according to AFP.
Barabash said that Russian forces are using armoured vehicles, targeting the industrial zone and striking positions in the town “around the clock” to hit high-rise buildings.
Under fire since 2014, the town has been largely devastated by shelling.
He said that there are 1,431 people left in the town out of a pre-war population of nearly 30,000.
General Oleksandr Tarnavskiy, the in-charge of Ukrainian counteroffensive operation in the south, said that Ukrainian soldiers are firmly holding the defence in the direction of Avdiivka.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has described Avdiivka as one of the “hottest” areas on the frontline.
In an intelligence report on Thursday, the British defence ministry said that Russia “is almost certainly attempting a pincer movement to encircle the town”.
Russian military advances
It said Russian troops are likely near the town’s huge coke plant in an important tactical position near the main road leading to Avdiivka.
Production in the plant has been halted for months because of frequent Russian bombardment.
Russian troops have recently advanced on the village of Stepove, north of the plant.
Meanwhile, the death toll from a missile attack early Wednesday on a residential building in the town of Selydove — about forty kilometres (twenty-four miles) east of Avdiivka — has risen to 3, the interior ministry said.